Mobile technology has become a cornerstone in conducting business. Most of us already have favorite productivity apps we install immediately upon getting a new smartphone. Businesses large and small can cut costs, work anywhere, collaborate in real-time on the web, send and receive faxes, and accept payments, all from a smartphone or tablet. Even better, many of the best apps are free (or free with the associated service), so there is no increase in your overhead to employ them. What can mobile technology do for your business?
1. Cut costs. Starbucks recently teamed up with mobile payment company Square to accept mobile payments from customers, without even swiping a card. Starbucks does an impressive 2.1 million mobile payment transactions per week; this move will cost them less money to accept credit payments and is more convenient for customers. Mobile payments even make lines move faster. Even small businesses can use mobile payment apps like Square, Here by Paypal, or Flint to accept credit card payments anywhere, anytime.
2. Work from anywhere. Of course you can use your mobile apps anywhere you have Wi-Fi or a data network. However, many apps offer offline modes where you can continue to work, even without a reliable network connection. Evernote Premium has offline notebooks. You can download notebooks to your phone or tablet, then access them from the beach or even on an airplane. Google Docs allows you to view and edit documents in offline mode, but only in Chrome.
3. Collaborate. Cloud-based mobile apps have changed collaboration completely. Using Google apps, individuals can create, share, and edit documents, presentations, and spreadsheets in real-time. Companies can purchase Google Apps for Business, so everyone in your business with an Internet connection can be working from any device. Google Apps customers can even create their own Google Play store filled with apps only for employees who are granted access to download on their Android devices. Collaborating between team members anywhere has never been faster—or more readily accessible—than it is now.
4. Share instantly. Not only can you use apps to share text documents or spreadsheets instantly, but apps like Dropbox let users share even large files easily. Dropbox offers free, pro, and team accounts. Free accounts start at 2 GB of storage, but users may complete tasks, like getting others to sign up, for added free storage. Pro accounts offer 100, 200, or 500 GB of storage. Team accounts start with 1TB of storage for five users. Apps like Dropbox and Google Apps for Business also store your files, so if you experience problems locally, your data is still safe and secure. Coworkers or employees can still access important documents, even if your iPad ends up in a mud puddle.
5. Faxing. While most of us handle our business communications by email, faxing remains an important method of sending and receiving documents. Mobile fax apps allow employees to send and receive faxes no matter where they are. Small business owners can skip owning a clunky, expensive fax machine entirely. MetroFax has a free mobile fax app to use with small business or corporate subscriptions. Other apps like iFax let the casual user pay per outgoing fax, or subscribe to get a number for incoming faxes.
6. Take notes and lists. Most mobile devices have some sort of built-in calendar, note app, and task list. There are better applications for businesses, though. Apps like Any.do allow users to compile task lists easily, with voice-to-text and predictive text, syncing across any device, and sharing. You can create a task list for a project, share with coworkers, and access it anywhere. Other popular apps for note taking and list-making include Cozi and Producteev.